Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Writer Who Hooked Me: Elizabeth Mansfield

For many writers, there is that moment when they *know* they are going to be an author. I’ve wanted to be an author since I realized about third grade that someone wrote the marvelous stories I was reading. But as I developed my skills, I found myself perplexed on what to write. I loved epic fantasy, science fiction, historical novels, and Westerns. Where should I dip my toes into the water?

And that’s when I first read Elizabeth Mansfield.

Elizabeth Mansfield (Paula Schwartz) was an author and playwright. She wrote more than two dozen Regency romances. My mother loved Georgette Heyer, so she was always bringing home Regencies of various sorts from the library. I picked up The Phantom Lover and couldn’t put it down.

I wanted to live in the world Mansfield had created, a world with noble heroes in dashing greatcoats and complicated cravats, with spunky heroines who were unafraid to take on Society, by either conquering it or taking different paths. Where love always triumphed in the end.

I devoured the rest of her catalog at the time, eagerly awaited each new book. When my mother discovered one I hadn’t known about, years after Elizabeth Mansfield had died, I nearly cried.

Besides her Regency novels, she wrote other romances under additional pen names, as well as plays. The one that most intrigues me is titled “An Accident at Lyme” and is based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. A musical, it was staged in Baltimore. Oh, how I wish I could have seen it!

She passed away in December 2003 after fighting valiantly against ovarian cancer. In recent years, her daughter has brought out many of her books as ebooks, thrilling a new generation of readers and inspiring Regency authors today.

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